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LACH v. ROBB

February 16, 1988

Lois P. Lach, Administratrix of the Estate of Ronald T. Lach, Jr., Deceased, as Administratrix and on her own behalf, Plaintiff
v.
Edward Palmer Robb, individually and as a Security Police Officer of California University of Pennsylvania; George Parkinson Kyle, individually and as a Security Police Officer of California University of Pennsylvania; Miles Jackson Crago, individually and as a Security Police Officer of California University of Pennsylvania; John P. Watkins, individually and as President of California University of Pennsylvania; California University of Pennsylvania; James Encapera, individually and as a Police Officer of the Borough of California; Charles Rapp, individually and as a Police Officer of the Borough of California; Joseph Dochinez, individually and as Mayor of the Borough of California; and Borough of California, a municipal corporation, Defendants



The opinion of the court was delivered by: TEITELBAUM

 HUBERT I. TEITELBAUM, United States District Judge

 On June 20, 1986 Ronald P. Lach, Jr. was stopped by university security officers for motor vehicle violations, fled on foot, and drowned in the Monongahela River. His mother subsequently brought this civil rights action against the three university security officers who allegedly stopped, pursued, and failed to rescue Lach; the university which employed them; and its president; the two municipal police officers who allegedly pursued and failed to rescue Lach; the municipality which employed them; and its mayor. *fn1" A claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 is asserted against the university security officers, the university, its president, the municipal police officers, the municipality, and its mayor. *fn2" State law claims for wrongful death and survival are asserted against the university security officers, the university president, the municipal police officers, and the mayor; a state law claim for failure to maintain realty is asserted against the university.

 Presently before the court are defendants' motions for summary judgment on the § 1983 claims. For the reasons set forth summary judgment will be granted for all defendants on the § 1983 claims and the pendent state law claims will be dismissed without prejudice.

 The following facts are not disputed in the record. At approximately 1:00 a.m. on the morning of June 20, 1986 three university security officers stopped Lach for motor vehicle violations. Lach was unable to produce any identification, and it was believed that he had been drinking.

 Lach fled on foot and was pursued by the university security officers. During the pursuit, one officer rolled or threw his flashlight at Lach to trip Lach, but the flashlight missed Lach. The university security officers radioed for assistance from the municipal police.

 The university security officers followed Lach to an embankment above the Monongahela River. Lach either climbed or fell down the embankment.

 The university security officers remained on the embankment. When the municipal police officers arrived on the scene, Lach was already in the river.

 All the officers shouted to Lach to return and shone their lights on him. The officers radioed for a river rescue boat and to stop river traffic.

 The cause of death was drowning. Lach's blood alcohol level was .17.

 The Municipal Defendants

 The municipal police officers move for summary judgment on the § 1983 claim contending there is no evidence that they violated Lach's constitutional rights.

 Fed.R.Civ.P. 56(c) mandates the entry of summary judgment, after an adequate time for discovery and upon motion, against a party who fails to make a showing sufficient to establish the existence of an element essential to that party's case, and on which that party will bear the burden of proof at trial. Celotex Corp. v. Catrett, 477 U.S. 317, 91 L. Ed. 2d 265, 273, 106 S. Ct. 2548 (1986). A party moving for summary judgment bears the initial burden of showing or pointing out to the court that there is an absence of evidence to support the non-moving party's case. 91 L. Ed. 2d at 274-275. The non-moving party then must show evidence sufficient to establish the existence of essential elements of its case on which it will bear the burden of proof at trial. 91 L. Ed. 2d at 273. The non-moving party can make this showing through depositions, answers to interrogatories, admissions and affidavits. 91 L. Ed. 2d at 275. The non-moving party cannot rely on the mere allegations of its pleadings. 91 L. Ed. 2d at 275.

 The standard for summary judgment mirrors the standard for a directed verdict. Anderson v. Liberty Lobby, Inc., 477 U.S. 242, 91 L. Ed. 2d 202, 213, 106 S. Ct. 2505 (1986). The inquiry before the court is whether the evidence presents a sufficient disagreement to require submission to a jury or whether it is so one-sided that one party must prevail as a matter of law. 91 L. Ed. 2d at 214. If there is a mere scintilla of evidence, or if the evidence ...


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